Idaho moves the ball forward on environmental policy

Idaho environmentalists, industry and politicians are moving the state’s environmental policy forward by working together across party and ideological lines.

But the federal government is so tied up by partisanship and bureaucracy that progress in the big picture is slow. That’s what a panel convened by High Country News, a regional magazine about the West concluded Thursday night.

Pyne calls for balance between burning and suppression

Historian Stephen Pyne doesn’t pull any punches in this powerful essay about Wally Covington, the University of Northern Arizona forestry professor who has been one of the leading voices for restoring fire to the forest.

Pyne points out that Covington’s “Flagstaff model,” advocates thinning of forest first before allowing burning. He tells the story of the 17,000-acre Warm fire on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in 2006.

High Country News comes to Boise

At a time when the traditional print media is struggling a western hybrid, High Country News, is thriving.

High Country News is a nearly twice weekly publication started by Wyoming rancher Tom Bell in 1970 to cover the West’s public lands, resource and environmental issues. After Bell sold his ranch to keep it going he organized it as a non-profit and for most of its 38 years has been unabashedly environmental in focus. Much of its funding comes from reader donations.

Bush Administration prepares to give up on wolf delisting for now

The federal government may be going back to the drawing board on delisting the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Attorneys for the Bush Administration have told state attorneys and attorneys for sportsmen’s groups they plan to file a motion with U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula seeking he remand the case to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Silence lost in Yellowstone snowmobile debate

The most overpowering sense of Yellowstone midweek in February in 1988 was its silence.

I hitched a ride with an outfitter in a snowcoach to write a story about the winterkeeper at Canyon Village, Steve Fuller. Fuller had and has the wonderful job of shoveling the snow off the roofs of the development in the middle of the park, a job he’s had since 1971.

That was the first year snowmobiles were allowed in the park and only four years after Yellowstone had began opening in the winter. Fuller, who had been a teacher in Uganda and is a brilliant photographer, thrived in the isolation.

Drilling and innovating

Steve Allred, the assistant Interior secretary for Land and Minerals Management is one smart cookie. He started as Cecil Andrus' Water Resources director in the 1970s, had a successful career for Morrison Knutson and Washington Group before helping to form and fix the Department of Environmental Quality under Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.

Payette Forest bighorn sheep decision expected out soon

The Payette National Forest is finishing up a draft environmental impact statement on how to protect bighorn sheep and it should hit the streets soon.

You might remember in 2007 District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ordered ranchers to move their sheep off of five allotments on the Payette National Forest in Hells Canyon to protect the wild sheep that are among the most valuable wild animals in the state for hunters and for wildlife viewing. The Forest Service was ordered to complete an environmental impact statement on sheep grazing in bighorn habitat.

Minor named CNN hero

Vicki Minor, the executive director of the Wildland Firefighters Foundation is honored tonight on Larry King Live at 7 p.m. MDT. She has been named a CNN Hero.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation helps families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and assists injured firefighters and their families. It's headquartered in Boise Learn more or help at www.wffoundation.org

Here's a video about Minor:

Blue Dogs take credit for changing Democrat drilling stance

Blue Dog Democrat Mike Ross from Arkansas said Tuesday he and his 49 colleagues in the party’s conservative wing are the reason that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats now back a bill that will open up off shore drilling in some areas.

Democrats are now looking at a bill that will open up some areas or give states the option to open up some areas to drilling. But the bill will also cut billions of dollars in subsidies to the oil industry and shift them to alternative energy sources.

“It’s something the American people said they want,” Ross told me in an interview.

McCain grizzly earmark story raises questions on his focus

John McCain’s attacks on earmarks has long included a jibe at $3 million former Montana GOP Sen. Conrad Burns got for research into grizzly bear DNA.

Even before he was running he made fun of the research program aimed at identifying the DNA of bears in Montana.

"Approach a bear: 'That bear cub over there claims you are his father, and we need to take your DNA,'” McCain said in a floor speech in 2003. “Approach another bear: 'Two hikers had their food stolen by a bear, and we think it is you. We have to get the DNA.' The DNA doesn't fit, you got to acquit, if I might."

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